Bloc Party 2023 Event Review

Published: 23 November 2023

The 13th edition of Bloc Party, our annual climbing party, turned out to be an absolute belter. This year marked our third anniversary in the new Comp Room, maintaining Ben’s vision of having a dedicated competition wall since he first flung the doors open at City Bloc in 2009.

This year’s Bloc Party saw, 160 competitors, some crossing borders, converging for our climbing party, here’s our attempt to summarise the entire day. A celebration of all the elbow grease poured in by everyone in the mix, from the tireless staff to the fantastic vendors, sponsors and, of course, you, the climbers. You’re the real MVPs, the ones who fuel our inspiration to keep throwing Bloc Party every year. It’s a tradition we absolutely intend to uphold. 

Bloc Party attracts serious talent and, inevitably, some serious problems. This year, our main guy, Ben, along with the setting team, rolled up their sleeves and crafted a mix of 30 challenging qualifiers to test our Bloc Party competitors.

We kicked off with the morning qualifier at 10:00, which rolled through until 13:00. Then, we jumped straight into the afternoon qualifiers from 13:30 to 16:30. The two phases of qualies meant there was space to smash out some blocs without queues and chaos, but enough buzz to keep the energy high, without too much hustle and bustle to make folk spill their chalk.

The competitors, as always, created a vibrant blend. From the mindful visualisers meticulously planning every move to those in beast mode, ruthlessly smashing holds, to the easy-going types leisurely soaking in the climb. It was a delightful show; each participant contributed their distinctive flair to the qualifiers, all against the backdrop of the tunes of House of Loft.

A huge shoutout to our stall holders, who played an essential role in making the day even more enjoyable. Gekco’s pinch strength testing station kept people entertained, and a big thanks to BeeKind and Cragswag, who helped hand out the “Hunt the Ooshie” prizes. Speaking of the hunt, the enthusiasm for prize hunting was hilarious, with some participants feverishly searching high and low for those elusive characters that would lead to coveted prizes. Perhaps they were fuelled by all the free Tenzing.

We’re not just about the climbs; we’ve got traditions too. Each ticket comes with a free special edition Bloc Party t-shirt, a piece of climbing history. Lovingly designed and printed on sustainable threads, we hope you treat it like your favourite band tee. Wear it to the wall, on your next trip to the crag, and down at the supermarket while picking out avocados. Guard it with care, wear it proudly, and with each adventure, it gains character, telling a story of conquered climbs and avocado shopping. One day, you’ll realise it’s a true Bloc classic, a timeless piece echoing the spirit of countless adventures. Keep it safe, let it age like a fine wine, and one day, climbers of the future will gaze upon it with awe, and you can state with pride that you were there.

Now, let’s talk about the fancy dress. Since Bloc Party always seems to fall around Halloween, we embrace this and throw in a competition for the best outfits. Some were downright silly, others so subtle you’d mistake them for a slightly misjudged climbing outfit, and then there was one that was so far outside the box it literally was a box. The undisputed champion of this category was none other than Sam Butterworth, rocking a homemade Wall-e outfit. Picture a climbing robot made entirely of cardboard scaling the wall, with vision completely obscured by the costume, mid-climb. Yet, he navigated the wall, hold by hold, with nothing but verbal guidance. The cheers when Sam conquered the bloc? Louder than a rock concert. He rightfully won arguably the most coveted of Bloc Party prizes, best fancy dress. Here’s to hoping next year brings even more costume chaos because, let’s face it, the more outfits, the better.

Prizegiving & Scores

So, it’s 16:30, and climbing has paused… for a while, at least. It’s the juncture when we collect all those scorecards, gearing up to reveal the champions from the morning grind and the afternoon showdown. This is the moment to discover who’s seizing victory in the 15 and under, Fun, and Fancy Dress Categories. And of course, let’s not overlook the advanced category climbers who’ve won their golden ticket to the semi-finals. Dive into the roll call below to see how you did.

Fun Category – Female Winners

1st PlaceMaddi Benjamin
2nd PlaceKiah York
3rd PlaceAbigal May

Fun Category – Open Winners

1st PlaceBenji Arnold
2nd PlaceOswyn Hodgson

Fun Category – Male Winners

1st PlaceInnes Reid
2nd PlaceDaniel Burton
3rd PlaceWill Goldsworthy

15 & Under Female Finalists

1st PlaceJessica Ward
2nd PlaceEmily Hearn
3rd PlaceCharlotte Powell

15 & Under Male Finalists

1st PlaceMax Dalton
2nd PlaceWilliam John Decker
3rd PlaceKit Watson-Evans

Male Semi Finalists

1Max Milne297
2Hamish McArthur280
3Sam Butterworth277
4Jamie Jenkins260
5Joseph Xiberras257
6Tom Healy254
7Saul Calvert251
8Philip Murphy250
9Will Danks-Tatham247
9Tom Jenkinson247
9Will Buck247
9Joe Honeyfield247

Female Semi Finalists

1Fae MacDougall247
2Holly Toothill244
3Jo Neame234
4Zoe Peetermans227
5Katherine MacDougal218
6Hannah Kerr213
7Anya Hmaimou204
8Ruth Hardy202
9Flo Brailsford195
10Robyn Eldekvist167
11Eleanor Robinson157
12Laure Renault155

Semi Finals

For a one-day competition, running a semi-final isn’t always the norm, but at Bloc Party, we like to keep things unconventional and entertaining. Unlike previous years’ head-to-head races, this time, we added a dash of stress with an assault course concept. Ben, the wizard conjuring up setting concepts, let his imagination run wild resulting in a semi-final format with a trampette bounce, a custom-made slidey volume, a groove, a daring sideways lunge, mantle on balls, a ring swing, and a heart-stopping dash to the finish.

Competitors faced a rollercoaster of shock, excitement, and fear tackling this challenge. Some surprisingly made it quite far, but the true star of the show was Holly Toothill, soaring through the course and delighting the crowd. A genuine crowd pleaser. Now, let’s not forget the male semi-finalists. Among them, Sam Butterworth swung into action, showcasing his skills alongside Max Milne, who blazed through the course like a seasoned pro. Quite the spectacle.

Female Semi Final Results

1Holly Toothill
2Katherine MacDougall
3Fae MacDougall
4Anya Hmaimou
5Ruth Hardy
6Jo Neame

Male Semi Final Results

1Max Milne
2Sam Butterworth
3Tom Jenkinson
4Will Danks Tatham
5Saul Calvert
6Tom Healy


As the sun bowed out, it was time to turn out big lights, and in their place, the spotlights flickered to life, setting the scene for the grand showcase finals. Six female and six male competitors stood poised, ready to face four problems that would put their competition mettle to the test. It was a deliberate transition, a signal that the climbing arena was now reserved for the climactic showcase of skill, strategy, and sheer determination.

As competitors emerged from isolation, the spotlit finals unfurled another chapter in the Bloc Party saga. It was genuinely inspirational to witness the unwavering determination, adaptability, and skill displayed by everyone involved. These climbers threw themselves at the problems with all their might. Inevitably, someone had to emerge victorious. This year, the stage belonged to Holly Toothill and Max Milne, both claiming yet another well-deserved Bloc Party title. If you want to relive the day check out this beautiful footage of the day from Oscar Garth, he has brilliantly captured the highs and lows of the day from the laughs, exhilarating ring swings to the heartwarming hugs and the nail-biting tension of the finals. Every frame tells the story of Bloc Party 2023. 

Female Podium

1st PlaceHolly Toothill
2nd PlaceFae MacDougall
3rd PlaceAnya Hmaimou

Male Podium

1st PlaceMax Milne
2nd PlaceSam Butterworth
3rd PlaceTom Jenkinson

Another Bloc Party done and dusted, just like that. We all came together once again to celebrate this sport that we have all come to know and love. Once again, a heartfelt thank you to all of you. You are the heartbeat of what makes City Bloc special, and we hold dear the community we all share.

Our photographer; Zelin Liu has been amazing and turned around hundreds of photos from the day. Feel free to enjoy the photos; a tag for @cityblocleeds and @zlin.liu would be appreciated if you decide to share them.


CB x